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Appeal 2021 was launched today at Catholic Charities of Buffalo’s Russell J. Salvatore Food Pantry and Outreach in Lackawanna with a goal of raising $10 million by June 30. This year’s theme is “HOPE.”

“For 97 years Catholic Charities has been supporting the community with basic and crucial needs, providing a beacon of hope to our neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet and those who are facing challenges with their health and well-being,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO, Catholic Charities. “We are confident that in the days and weeks ahead, Western New Yorkers will once again show their generosity by supporting Appeal 2021 and giving hope to individuals, children and families in need throughout our region.”

The annual Appeal helps fund 57 programs and services administered by Catholic Charities across 80 locations, along with several ministries that benefit all parishes through the Fund for the Faith. Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human services provider serving people of all faiths across all eight counties of Western New York.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher, in one of his first public appearances as newly installed 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, spoke about the Appeal as being where the “rubber meets the road and how we demonstrate and experience the transformative love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Fisher said, “With your continued support, the work of Catholic Charities and the Fund for the Faith is addressing real needs of real people each and every day – person to person, providing comfort and healing. This is the work that is so needed, and which should inspire renewed zeal for manifesting the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is who we are as Catholic Christians and simply put – it’s just what we do. I look forward to seeing the work of Catholic Charities and the Fund for the Faith in action, and doing all that I can to support and extend their work to ensure an even greater impact among those who need it most.”

Appeal 2021 Chair Rick Cronin added, “Tens of thousands of our neighbors across our community continue to rely on the critical programs and services provided by Catholic Charities and the diocesan ministries and programs that benefit from the Fund for the Faith. During the darkest days of the ongoing pandemic, Catholic Charities has provided hope for so many – families who are seeking assistance at a food pantry for the first time, individuals in need of mental health counseling, seniors looking to connect with others during an isolating time, and so many more. Catholic Charities has never been needed more by so many.”

Programs and services provided by Catholic Charities supported more than 149,000 individuals, children, and families in 2020. These included basic emergency assistance such as food pantries, educational and vocational advancement services, family safety and stabilization services, immigration and refugee assistance, mental health and substance use treatment, and youth and family support services.

Once again, donors can designate their Appeal gift. Donors can choose from three options: give to the Appeal, which benefits both Catholic Charities and the Fund for the Faith; give to Catholic Charities only; or give to the Fund for the Faith only.

The kickoff for the Appeal was held at the Russell J. Salvatore Food Pantry and Outreach in Lackawanna, one of nine Catholic Charities’ food pantries, all of which have been actively serving their communities since the start of the pandemic.

One South Buffalo resident who experienced job loss as a result of the pandemic last year, had no choice but to turn to one of Catholic Charities’ food pantries recently for some supplemental assistance.

“I never expected to have to use a food pantry,” said Mike, a South Buffalo resident. “The groceries are a bright spot. It helps me to keep money in my pocket to pay bills with.”

During the most recent holiday season, with continued donations and support, the food pantries (located in Erie, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties) distributed food bags and Christmas dinners to 2,276 individuals in 1,062 households.

The patron saint of Appeal 2021 is St. Ignatius of Loyola. Appeal volunteer workshops and events are now underway virtually throughout the region.

To donate to Appeal 2021, visit or call 716-218-1400. To find help through Catholic Charities, call the Helpline at 716-218-1419.